Relationships are one of the most rewarding, yet challenging aspects of life. It is these rewarding and challenging experiences with those we love that compose our greatest memories. The first and most important relationship is with our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. We come to know, love, trust, respect, and reverence our God and His Only Begotten Son. Remember: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (see John 17:3). This will be the foundation of all other relationships.
Life and all of its joys are built upon relationships. Your association and involvement with others—spouse, family, friends, and associates—constitute one of life’s supreme values. Marriage, family, school, and the workplace become enjoyable when there are positive, meaningful relationships there. Life’s enduring memories are usually associated with the people you care about. These relationships make life full and wonderful when they are harmonious and vibrant, or empty and miserable when they are hurtful and incomplete. The test of friendship is in the relationship itself. When the relationship is pure and harmonious, then the friendship endures. The moments and memories we have with a parent, spouse, family member, a loving friend, or other close associate can provide relief from our difficulties and make life sweetly fulfilling.
Our actions and attitudes determine the fulfillment and success we enjoy in relationships. Positive attitudes and actions nurture relationships. Remember that healthy relationships are constructive, pure, and harmonious. When you learn to give of yourself, your time, and your resources, you will find that your relationships will reap the benefits of your efforts. Successful relationships become a source of joy and happiness in life through the keys of cooperation, teaching, positive persuasion, and understanding.
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34–35). Our association and connection with those around us is based upon love. True love is expressed as we have concern for others and their well-being. We then build relationships based upon trust, respect, and love. This should be our highest goal: to love our fellowmen, for this manifests our love for God (1 John 4:20).
“We should try to be more constant and unfailing, more longsuffering and kind, less envious and puffed up in our relationships with others. As Christ lived so should we live, and as Christ loved so should we love” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 336–337).
“I believe that the little things are of great importance in our relationship with ourselves, in our relationships with others, and in our relationship with God. . . . Do we take the time to remember the simple courtesies that are so important in building relationships with others? Do we remember the smile, the compliment, the positive note, and the word of encouragement? We should do these things without hesitation. They should be a part of our everyday manner” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, Finding Peace in Our Lives [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 64).
The formula for successful relationships with others boils down to that divine code known as the Golden Rule: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matt. 7:12).
Listed below are some helpful hints for developing good relationships with others.
Relationships are based on many small acts of initiative.
- Trust—Build relationships based on trust, love, dependability, and respect.
- Example—Become a trustworthy person.
- Kindness—Learn to be a loving person, both in giving and receiving.
- Respect—Respect all people in every way.
- Service—Do things for others that enhance and build up the relationships.
- Loyalty—Never gossip! People will always wonder what you do behind their back. It hurts all your relationships.
- Support—Honestly compliment and praise others regularly.
- Caring—Do the little things that let people know you care. “Real friendship is shown in times of trouble; prosperity is full of friends,” counseled Euripides.
Some relationships are sacred.
- Parents—Let us do all in our power to honor our parents, no matter what the circumstances.
- Spouse—Where the relationship between husband and wife is grounded in commitment, shared vision, forgiving tenderness, and abiding love, all things are possible on the pathway to success and harmony.
- Children—No duty or commission in life is higher than the parents’ sacred obligation to work for the blessing and good of their children in every way.
- God—Where the relationship with Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ is based on humility, gratitude, honor, and obedience, there will be peace and quiet joy in rich abundance.
The list of helpful hints for good relationships could go on forever. One could write a column every day about the things that have happened that either strengthen or destroy relationships. The keys seem to be to care for others and work together to make the relationship strong in order that we are all able to endure the trials and tribulations of life. Through faith and devoted effort we can truly attain all worthy goals—including close and endearing relationships.
Here is an illustration of how much work relationships take to keep strong and how rewarding that effort can be:
“Can We Save Our Marriage?”
Of all the relationships in the world, the relationship between man and woman is the most rewarding, yet challenging. In marriage, as in all relationships, there are principles that must be practiced in order to maintain a good relationship. The story begins as Tom and Sally were struggling. Sally called a marriage counselor friend and said, “We’ve got problems.” Tom was willing, but their relationship had suffered so many setbacks that communication was difficult. They wanted to stay together; after all, they had three beautiful children, but things were too stressed—financial problems, disagreements over discipline, the way each responded to the other with fault-finding and negative comments. Yes, their relationship was in trouble. No one seemed to notice. They put on a good front. They were good parents, but the real concern was whether they were good to each other. Were they working on being a good husband and a good wife? They needed help—so they tried. That is the key. They tried to have a better relationship, so the appointment with the counselor was made.
As the counselor visited with Tom and Sally, all the problems were vented. Fault-finding was apparent. That’s when the counselor said, “Do you really want to be happy? Are you willing to change? Are you willing to try to build back your relationship like it was when you were first married?” Through tears, they both agreed. Humility really precedes a change of heart as well as action. So he went on. They discussed some things to help improve their relationship:
- Spend time together doing fun things.
- Talk and listen to each other with real intent.
- Agree on your family values. There can never be unity or a good strong relationship without common values.
- Be each other’s best friend. Talk about life and fun things you have done and those special moments that bring memories of joy.
- Go on a trip together, just the two of you. Husbands and wives need to nurture each other, too, not just the children.
- Make a plan together for your life together, and then make it happen together.
Following the visit, they realized that their problems in their relationship had begun slowly, almost insidiously. As they reminisced about their dating and all the fun times they had had, it seemed as if a veil, even a mist of darkness, lifted. They looked at the good, not the bad. Commitments were made. Smiles returned to their faces. They saw the good. Sure it took time, but it happened. They paid the price. Their relationship flourished. They spent the time to help each other be happy, and they were happy. There was no selfishness—the destroyer of all relationships. There was concern for each other. The surprising thing is that their relationship with their children and their friends all improved as well. Honesty, humility, commitment, and devoted service: all of these can help build and maintain relationships of vitality and joy. (Ed J. Pinegar)
This article has been adapted from What We Need to Know and Do, by Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.